Men’s Ice Hockey: No. 2 Terriers Meet No. 17/18 RIT In Opening Round of the NCAA Tournament

By Miranda Lemus

After coming up short in the Hockey East Championship to the No.1 Boston College Eagles, No. 2 Boston University Men’s Hockey will begin their NCAA tournament run with a clean slate and new competition. The Terriers will fly to Sioux Falls, South Dakota to take on the Rochester Institute of Technology Tigers in the opening round of their NCAA Regional pod. 

“It’s a whole new season now. Everyone’s in the same spot, everyone’s 0-0 here… That’s our mindset going in,” said coach Jay Pandolfo.

The Tigers earned an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament for winning the Atlantic Hockey Championship. RIT was favored to win the AH title all season but has jumped in and out of the top 20 due to the competition they faced all year. 

Earlier this season, RIT suffered losses to Niagara University, Mercyhurst University, and Sacred Heart University, teams that the Tigers should be beating (in theory). RIT was within 3 goals or less in each of their losses this season. Their wins, however, were big wins. In their most recent playoff run in the Atlantic Hockey tournament, the Tigers outscored their opponents 26-6 in just five games. 

The secret sauce to RIT’s success has been junior goaltender Tommy Scarfone. The Montreal native has almost 1000 saves this season and a .928 save percentage. Scarfone also has two 30-plus saves shutouts. 

RIT’s stats sheet is also filled with scoring from up and down the lineup, in fact, the Tigers have more players that are above a point per game than the Terriers do. For the Tigers, veteran forwards, junior Carter Wilkie, senior Cody Laskosky, and graduate student Elijah Gonsalves lead the charge for their squad, each is above a point per game. The only two Terriers in that category are underclassmen, forward Macklin Celebrini and defenseman Lane Hutson. 

It’s important to realize that the Tiger’s regular season schedule was much weaker than the Terriers. RIT only faced two ranked opponents this season, the University of New Hampshire and the University of Maine Black Bears. The Tigers fell to the Black Bears 5-2 and then split a two-game series with UNH. 

The Terriers faced ranked opponents week after week in arguably the toughest conference in the country and remained in the top 5 almost all season. For them, the key to going deep in this tournament is not Celebrini or Hutson, it is how well junior goaltender Mathieu Caron can play. 

Fans saw that even when the Terriers do not play up to their potential and Caron does, wins are easy. Their Hockey East Semifinal game against Maine is a prime example of that. The Black Bears outshot the Terriers 32-14 and still lost 4-1. Caron stood on his head and had up until that point for a good stretch of games. 

When BU came up short of rival BC in the Hockey East Finals, it was because Caron fell flat and BC freshman goaltender Jacob Fowler came up big as he usually does. Playoffs are a different beast and Caron needs to step up.